How Clallam County picks its governors

Clallam County, Wash., knows how to pick a winner— at least when it comes to presidential politics.

Every four years, going back to 1980, it has voted for the winning presidential candidate, making it the county with the longest record of anticipating the country’s next commander-in-chief— whether Republican or Democrat. That puts Clallam County at odds with Washington, a state that hasn’t selected a Republican presidential candidate since 1984. While Clallam has voted Republican in six of the last 11 presidential elections, Washington has voted Republican in only two.

When it comes to choosing Washington’s governor, Clallam County has struck a more consistent note, though one still mostly at odds with the rest of the state. Clallam has voted Republican in eight out of the last 11 gubernatorial elections. Since 1980, Clallam County has voted for a Democrat in 1984, 1988, and 2000, and for a Republican ever since.

Washington, however, has selected a Democratic governor in every election since 1984.

The following table contrasts Clallam’s gubernatorial voting record since 2000 with Washington’s statewide results.

Although Clallam has selected Republican governors since 2004, the results have been close, with no more than a 10% margin separating the Republican candidate from the Democratic one. In 2008, 2016, and 2020, the margin separating the two candidates was under two percent, reflecting Clallam’s political diversity.

Clallam County is holding municipal elections in its three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks— in 2021. Twenty-six offices are up for election in those cities.

Ohio Redistricting Commission approves new state legislative maps along party lines

The Ohio Redistricting Commission approved new state legislative district maps by a 5-2 vote early in the morning on Sept. 16. The two Democratic members of the commission, state Rep. Emilia Sykes (D) and state Sen. Vernon Sykes (D), were the two dissenting votes. Since the map was approved along partisan lines, it will only last for four years, rather than ten, as outlined in the 2015 constitutional amendment creating the commission.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R), a member of the commission, estimated that the new maps would create 62 Republican seats and 37 Democratic seats in the House, and 23 Republican seats and 10 Democratic seats in the Senate. reported that Democrats on the commission agreed with the Senate estimates, but said the new House map would create 65 Republican seats and 34 Democratic seats.

A statement from the commission explaining the manner by which districts were allocated said: “The Commission considered statewide state and federal partisan general election results during the last ten years. There were sixteen such contests. When considering the results of each of those elections, the Commission determined that Republican candidates won thirteen out of sixteen of those elections. […] Accordingly, the statewide proportion of districts whose voters favor each political party corresponds closely to the statewide preferences of the voters of Ohio.”

Following the enactment of the maps, Huffman released a statement saying: “These house and senate maps will be in place for the next four years, and represent an important first step towards approving the next map that will complete the decade. […] I’m convinced we could’ve reached a ten-year map. However, special interests pressured democrats to not support it, asking voters to extend the deadline to accomplish that.”

Leading up to the vote, Emilia Sykes disapproved of the maps as overly partisan, saying she would “call it offensive and plain wrong to move forward this map […] to put forth something that so arrogantly flies in the face of what people, our voters, asked us to do, not once, but twice.”

Commission members Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) expressed disapproval of the maps and said they expected court challenges to follow their vote. DeWine said: “Along with the secretary of state I will vote to send this matter forward but it will not be the end of it. We know that this matter will be in court. […] What I am sure in my heart is that this committee could have come up with a bill that was much more clearly constitutional.”

Click here to view images of the maps and read more about redistricting in Ohio following the 2020 census.

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Special elections to be held in Texas House districts

Special elections are being held on Sept. 28 for District 10 and District 118 of the Texas House of Representatives. The winner of these special elections will serve until January 2023.

  • In District 10, Republicans Brian Harrison and John Wray are running in a general election runoff. Harrison and Wray advanced from the general election on Aug. 31, earning 40.5% and 35.8% of the vote, respectively. The seat became vacant after Jake Ellzey (R) won a special election to Texas’ 6th Congressional District on July 27. Ellzey had represented the district since January 2021.
  • In District 118, Katie Farias (D), Desi Martinez (D), Frank Ramirez (D), John Lujan (R), and Adam Salyer (R) are running in the general election. A runoff will be called if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. The seat became vacant on Aug. 19 after Leo Pacheco (D) resigned to teach public administration at San Antonio College. Pacheco had represented the district since 2019.

Heading into the special elections, Republicans have an 82-66 majority in the Texas House with two vacancies. Texas has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of September, 60 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 20 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Texas held 28 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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Special election for vacant Massachusetts Senate seat called for 2022

A special election has been called to fill the vacant Massachusetts State Senate seat in the First Suffolk & Middlesex District. The seat became vacant on Sept. 9 when former state Sen. Joseph Boncore (D) resigned to become CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio).

The special general election is set for Jan. 11, 2022, with the special primary election scheduled for Dec. 14, 2021. The Secretary of State’s Elections Division reports it will issue a calendar and nomination papers for the election during the week of Sept. 20.

To date, three state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2022 in two states: two in Alabama and one in Massachusetts. So far in 2021, 60 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 20 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year.

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Redistricting Roundup: Ohio Redistricting Commission approves state legislative redistricting maps by party-line vote

Here’s a summary of the week’s noteworthy redistricting news from Iowa and Ohio, and authorities in seven states released draft congressional or legislative maps:

Ohio: The Ohio Redistricting Commission approved new state legislative district maps by a 5-2 party-line vote on Sept. 9. If the Commission files those maps with the secretary of state, they would be effective for four years since they passed without support from two commissioners from each party. 

This is the first state legislative redistricting conducted under Ohio’s Bipartisan Redistricting Commission Amendment that voters approved in 2015. The Commission consists of the governor, state auditor, secretary of state, and four members of the state legislature —two from each party. Maps drawn by the commission are valid for 10 years if at least two commissioners from each major political party vote for them. Should the maps be passed along strictly partisan lines, the maps are valid for two general elections of the state House of Representatives.

The deadline for the Commission to adopt final state legislative maps was Sept. 15. The Ohio Supreme Court has jurisdiction over all cases involving state legislative redistricting.

Iowa: The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Sept. 14 that they were extending the deadline for state legislative redistricting to Dec. 1 due to delays in receiving data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Court said because the process would not be complete by the state’s Sept. 15 constitutional deadline, it was exercising its responsibility and authority over redistricting. The Iowa Legislative Services Agency has said that the Iowa Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission would release the first draft of proposed state legislative district maps on Sept. 16.

Nationwide: Redistricting commissions or state legislative committees in Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, and Nebraska all released draft congressional or legislative maps.

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Sonoma County District Attorney retains office after voters defeat recall effort

A recall election seeking to remove Jill Ravitch from her position as the district attorney of Sonoma County, Calif., was on the ballot on Sept. 14. A majority of voters (79.9%) cast ballots against the recall, defeating the effort and keeping Ravitch in office.

The candidate filing deadline passed on July 1, but no candidates filed to run in the replacement race. However, two write-in candidates— Omar Figueroa and Joey Castagnola— filed to run afterward.

The recall effort began in October 2020. Recall supporters said Ravitch had ignored issues of inequality, injustice, and fire safety; failed to hold corporations accountable for environmental issues; prevented the release of police body camera recordings; disproportionately incarcerated minorities; and abused her powers to pursue personal vendettas.

In response to the recall effort, Ravitch defended her record and said, “I’m so proud of the work the District Attorney’s Office does, and it’s such an honor to lead a dedicated group of professionals who work hard every day to ensure justice. […] These allegations strike not just at me but the work my office does, and that’s unfortunate.” The Sonoma County Democratic Party published a statement on March 9 saying it was opposed to the recall effort.

Ravitch took office as district attorney in 2011. Prior to the filing of the notice of intent to recall, Ravitch had announced that she would not seek re-election when her term ends in 2022.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to submit 30,056 signatures in 160 days. The county verified 32,128 signatures, which was sufficient to schedule a recall election.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Bousselot (R) defeats Phillips (D) in Iowa state House special election

A special general election was held for Iowa House of Representatives District 37 on Sept. 14. Mike Bousselot (R) defeated Andrea Phillips (D), earning 51.6% of the vote to Phillips’ 48.4%.

There was no primary election, as the candidates were selected directly by their respective political parties.

The special election became necessary after John Landon (R) died on July 29. Landon served from 2013 to 2021.

Iowa has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. After Bousselot is sworn in, Republicans will control the Iowa House of Representatives by a margin of 59 to 40, with one vacancy.

As of September 2021, 60 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 20 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Iowa held 22 special elections between 2010 and 2020.

California voters retain Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)

California voters retained Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in the recall election Tuesday night. With 68% of precincts partially reporting, 63.8% voted to retain Newsom while 36.1% voted to recall Newsom. A majority vote was required to recall Newsom.

Among the replacement candidates, Larry Elder (R) received the largest share of the votes at 47% followed by Kevin Paffrath (D) at 10%. 

The recall election presented voters with two questions. The first asked whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second asked who should succeed Newsom if he was recalled. If Newsome had been recalled, the candidate with the most votes on the second question would have won the election, no majority required.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, ran in the election. The candidates to receive the most media attention and perform best in polls before the election were YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D), businessman and 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), radio host Larry Elder (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer> (R), California State Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R).

Recall supporters said Newsom mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to address the state’s homelessness rate, and supported sanctuary city policies and water rationing. In a March 2021 response, Newsom called the effort a “Republican recall — backed by the RNC, anti-mask and anti-vax extremists, and pro-Trump forces who want to overturn the last election and have opposed much of what we have done to fight the pandemic.” Newsom was elected governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote.

Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger> (R) was elected as Davis’ replacement. In that election, 135 candidates ran and the winner received 48.6% of the vote.

Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission releases first set of staff drawn maps

The Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission released its first set of staff-drawn maps for the state House and Senate on Sept. 13. The commission had released an initial set of proposed maps in June before the US Census Bureau released block-level population data in August.

On Aug. 13, the commission adopted a new redistricting schedule which set Sept. 13 as the commission staff’s deadline for publishing its first set of plans online. The adjusted schedule was published after the Colorado Supreme Court ordered on July 26 that the deadline for submitting the state’s legislative redistricting plans to the Colorado Supreme Court be extended from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

After the staff plans were released, David Pourshoushtari, a spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party, said, “the commission staff needs to understand the implications of drawing maps without taking into account the overlapping 4-year terms of state senators. Coloradans voted for fair redistricting when they approved Amendment Z, and this map does not meet that goal.” Executive director of the Colorado Republican Party, Joe Jackson, said that “this map will consistently elect a Democrat majority in the state House and state Senate. This process has a long way to go, and we hope the commission will work to generate more competitive districts.”

Colorado voters approved Amendment Z, which created the Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission, in 2020 by a margin of 71% to 29%. A similar amendment was approved that year that created an independent commission for congressional redistricting.

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Kirsten Engel, Wesley Breckenridge resign from state legislatures

Two Democrats, Kirsten Engel and Wesley Breckenridge, resigned from their state legislatures on Sept. 8 and 10, respectively. Senator Engel represented Arizona Senate District 10 from Jan. 11, 2021, to Sept. 8, 2021, while Rep. Breckenridge represented Iowa House District 29 from 2017 to 2021.

Engel resigned to focus on her 2022 campaign for Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. As of Sept. 10, Engel was one of three Democrats Ballotpedia identified as running in the primary. Before joining the state Senate, Engel represented Arizona House District 10 from 2017 to 2021.

Breckenridge resigned to take a job with the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. He most recently won re-election in 2020, winning with 51.5% of the vote to Jon Dunwell’s (R) 48.4%.

Arizona is one of seven states to fill state legislative vacancies through appointments via Board of City Commissioners. Iowa is one of 25 states to fill such vacancies through special elections. 

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